The Poetry Project

“Negotiate” (excerpt from an essay in progress titled, “Leisure”)

Jhani Randhawa

xxx“If the listener, as listener, is always prefigurative, can the listener move from the relation of hierarchical enclosure? Can we move towards a gathering — in crossing-that crosses over?”
xxx—Carson Cole Arthur, Petero Kalulé, and AM Kanngieser, “Abolitionary Listening: Propositions & Questions” (2021)

xxxYou navigate when the fire goes out in a life.
xxxTurn of a gut toward other alienated stars, you navigate the currents coiling. When the fire goes out, when your tectonic becomes the cloud source breaking against schist, and the texture changes.

xxxYou and your friend
xxxscratch at the aporia

xxxDigging for seed pooled in a cheek

xxxYou remove the word
xxxlover from your choices

xxxafter the legal decision you and your friend could not expose a profound sadness about growing older in the arms of subjection and state violence

xxxYou remove a list of options when
xxxor words from your vocabulary when

xxxyou can no longer do harm
xxxyou are no longer safe


xxxAfter the legal decision
xxxyour friend did not want to live anymore, meanwhile you could not must the heart to fuck

xxxI will defend the caessura, the phasechange, the ethics of death and abdication.


Leave the scraps. Dry them, crush them to make a potassium rich compost. Crush the bones down to grow lovely and fruiting lemon. Mix with the worm, wide eyed stomata, touch with neem, lick of neem. He, gone who taught us to bite the bitter stick and urinate at the root of the lemon tree offering the magnesium, salt, and nitrate cached in our bodies. The circle of need. Sharp grass around the tree browning like our necks, elbows, calves in the high sun while the lemons grow fat, glossy like our unwillingness to bend.

We could be simple like this, pressed against the rage of the earth by our listening. Of kin to the frothing soil coiled by currents. Sink to the terminus of soil, that is to say where water and magnetism make a metaphysical species of fog, a new world.


xxxThat crossing holds meaning beyond being here and not here.

In the overgrowth a wren calls Felicia Felicia Felicia; across the ocean and deserts and wars of displacement, will knocks against those registered archetypes I inherited: martyr, soldier, warrior, suffragette. Against the heat in Pakistan and India, in Alaska.

xxxOrdered by dictates across the centuries. A quarry of dry cuttings, his lemons in the land.


xxxThe next word is negotiate. Float in the sonics.
xxxA pivot, a surge, a turn of the wrist laterally in the atmosphere, loosening a shape from the wind. You move words from your mouth til they are just fog, cupping
xxxswollen exigencies and what comes next
xxxweighed down by utility in the law, the gloss, the circles, the hard horror, the scrapes I’ve been striking it, buttoned-up shirt and damp stick in my fist.

xxxA little space grows before molossus.
xxxFrom the Latin not leisure, which aggregated into modality blue as defense, a business transaction.

xxxDo you believe it? This impassible contradistinction? These contraindications?
xxxIf it is not leisure it is _____.

Work from GIVINGHEED / TO / HEEDSGIVING: Dis/Course with Sara Jane Stoner